Makalu Wrap-up

All climbers on the mountain successfully summited Makalu today. It was supposedly a “smooth” push, although conditions are clearly far from perfect. Bad weather has grounded the helicopter that was to airlift yesterday’s summiters back to Kathmandu.

Sherpa records

With his no-O2 summit of Makalu, Mingma G has only Shishapangma left before he has completed all 14 of the 8,000’ers without supplementary oxygen. Dawa Gyalje Sherpa, Tamting Sherpa, and Pasang Namgel Sherpa supported clients Dong Hongjuan from China and Jill Wheatley of Canada.

Sanu Sherpa, leading the Pioneer Adventure team, is now just one peak away from climbing the 14 8,000m peaks twice.

Sanu Sherpa.

 

Note that all the international climbers who are trying to break speed records or collect as many 8,000’ers as possible climb with Sherpa support. Often, the Sherpas share their clients’ records. This includes Dawa Wongchu Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa with Kristin Harila; Mingma Sherpa with Baljeet Kaur; and Gelje Sherpa, who has been Adriana Brownlee’s partner since last year.

Bittersweet news for Pakistan

Sirbaz Khan, climbing with Mingma G, made it to the top without supplementary O2 at a remarkable speed.

“Sirbaz left from Camp 3 around 9:15 pm and summited around 8 am,” Sirbaz’s friend Saad Munawar told ExplorersWeb. “It took him under 11 hours from C3 to the summit.”

Sirbaz reported that both Mingma G and he felt good throughout the climb. Khan is now the only Pakistani climber with 11 8,000m summits.

Fellow Pakistani Shehroze Kashif has completed his seventh 8,000’er at only 20 years old.

On a sadder note, Ali Raza Sadpara, known as Apo Ali, has passed away. With more than 30 years of climbing and over 17 expeditions to 8,000m peaks, he had evolved into a mentor for younger mountaineers and high-altitude workers. Despite the efforts of doctors, Ali Raza couldn’t survive the severe injuries from a recent climbing accident while training.

Ali Raza Sadpara. Photo: Nida Aziz/Twitter

The multi-peak women

Kristin Harila has impressed everyone by summiting six 8,000’ers this season. Yesterday, she completed the first phase of her 14×8,000’ers speed record attempt by summiting Makalu. She made it back to ABC that evening. Today, she tried to fly back to KTM, but bad weather kept her in Base Camp for at least another day.

Adriana Brownlee made Makalu her 4th 8,000’er this season and the 7th of her short but intense career.

One of the several summits of Gelje Sherpa and Adriana Brownlee this season. Photo: Adriana Brownlee

 

Visually impaired climber Jill Wheatley summited Dhaulagiri, Kangchenjunga, and Makalu this season. Purnima Shrestha of Nepal has fought her way from peak to peak, both physically and financially.

Flying under the radar, Baljeet Kaur of India also summited Makalu today at 7:05 am. Climbing with Peak Promotion, she has set a national mark of five 8,000’ers in one season. Baljeet summited Annapurna I during the summit wave of April 28, Kangchenjunga on May 12, Everest on May 12, Lhotse the following day, and now Makalu this morning, Everest Today reported. Mingma Sherpa supported her on all five summits.

A note on Manaslu

Some climbers in this story summited Manaslu in fall 2021. Manaslu’s summit has long been controversial because commercial teams usually stop at a foresummit. Thus, the achievements remain unclear, especially for record seekers and 14×8,000m collectors.

The debate peaked last fall when Mingma G and his small party became the only ones to reach the true summit. The drone footage by Jackson Groves showed just how unmistakably lower and easier the foresummit was. The Himalayan Database has not released its summit list for fall 2021. Previously, they advocated for an amnesty of sorts, crediting foresummiters until that point. Yet it is unclear whether this pardon includes that season. The Imagine Nepal team made it clear to everyone just where the true summit was, and how technical the last section was!

Jill Wheatley on the true summit of Manaslu last fall. Photo: Jill Wheatley

 

In the case of these current multi-peak achievers, the Manaslu debate is especially relevant. Jill Wheatley, climbing with Mingma G’s team, reached the true summit. Adriana Brownlee and Gelje Sherpa, climbing at the time with Elite Exped, stopped at the foresummit, even if at least two members of their team continued to the actual summit. Are both summits equally valid? Should climbers going for the 14×8,000’ers return to Manaslu and climb to the highest point?

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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LZF
LZF
1 month ago

Of all the impressive records, one is not being praised. Dong Hong-Juan has now 17 main 8000ers summited (more than any woman in history). I think she is trying to summit all 8000ers twice since she reapeated several so far. Worth an interview, don’t ?

Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  LZF

A lot of sites have done away altogether with a comments section because, the internet being what it is, they can easily get too toxic. Here too we have to keep a tight rein on trolls, or those who personally insult other commenters. But the reason we’re reluctant to do away with the section altogether is because of informative comments like this from knowledgeable readers. We’ll definitely look into her!

LZF
LZF
1 month ago

thanks for your kindness, Jerry. All the good for your and Angela

damiengildea
1 month ago
Reply to  LZF

Dong Hong-Juan has not been to the true summits of either Annapurna or Dhaulagiri, so she has ‘only’ summited 11 x 8000ers.

LZF
LZF
1 month ago
Reply to  damiengildea

I admire your precision, my friend, but the 6 summits you discredit (twice MN, twice AN and twice DH) are valid to Himalayan Database, so it is 17. By the way, happy birthday, Damien !

Apy
Apy
1 month ago
Reply to  LZF

Also she definitely did not reach Sisha main summit.

LZF
LZF
1 month ago
Reply to  Apy

that’s why I put 17 and not 18 😛

damiengildea
1 month ago
Reply to  LZF

Actually, I made a mistake – which inadvertently proves my point! Because Dong did not go to the summit on the earlier occasions, she went back and did the true summits on Annapurna and Manaslu last year, and Dhaulagiri this year. Her own actions, and those of MingmaG who guided her on these re-summits, prove that: those earlier summits were not true summits, so don’t count even for the person doing them, and they were not true summits regardless of what the Himalayan Database says. Errors in the HDB do not change geographical fact. It is admirable of Hong (and… Read more »

bagra
bagra
1 month ago

Great.just wish one day, someone, eventually choose ANY other route but the original French route. sadly, this is probably one of the route-less eight-thousander. next to Lhotse I guess.
long gone those glory days…

look at that beautiful Yugoslav south face omg *__*

WhatsApp-Image-2021-02-28-at-1.52.59-AM-960x651.jpeg
JumperHigh
JumperHigh
1 month ago
Reply to  bagra

Why don’t you bring back the glory days if you yearn for it so much?

bagra
bagra
1 month ago
Reply to  JumperHigh

financial reasons
same as you

:p

Doug Shelby
Doug Shelby
1 month ago

Yeah Makalu ain’t easy. Good job everyone, glad everyone made it back down safe. Maybe explorersweb could ask Ed viesters about what he thinks about the manaslu controversy… I remember that he went back to Shisha just to make sure.

damiengildea
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug Shelby

Viesturs was one of the early people to call out that people were not going to the true summit, but he was mostly ignored. He did likewise on Dhaulagiri, and reported such to Ms. Hawley. This information has always been out there, is in the Himalayan Database for anyone who cares to look.

fred west
fred west
1 month ago

Harila is getting a lot of praise while Purja got mainly abuse and doubts cast on his climbing achievements. Poor show.